Earlier this week, we showed you the honorable mentions and No. 10-6 for the top games of the past school year. Now it’s time to reveal the Top 5. If you missed the first list, you can follow the link here. Now on to No. 5:
No. 5 Baseball vs Duke (Game 3)
|6/11/18||No. 9 Texas Tech 6, Duke 2||Michael Davis 1-4, HR, 2 RBIs; Gabe Holt 2-4, HR, 2 runs, 2 RBIs; Davis Martin 3 IP, ER, 4 K’s; Ty Harpenau 3 IP, ER, 3 K’s; John McMillon 2 IP, 0 ER 2 K’s|
Why Was This Chosen?: For the second time in program history, the Red Raiders needed a winner take all to advance to the College World Series. The first game was an 11-0 non-pressure filled game against Eastern Carolina. This one was way different.
This game will be known for two things: Dingers and Pitching. Gabe Holt, Michael Davis and Brian Klein (all true middle infielders) had home runs in the contest. Davis Martin, Ty Harpenau, John McMillon and Dylan Dusek were dominant on the rubber.
It started off with a Holt dinger in the third, followed by a tying run scored by Duke in the fourth. The first huge moment (there were a lot in this game) came when Rheams doubled and Davis hit a two run shot. It gave Tech the lead and insurance.
The Blue Devils got a run back in the sixth, and it appeared Duke was making a comeback in the seventh when McMillon came out of the pen. He induced a double play and struck out the next batter with a 99 mph heater to end the threat.
Klein got back the run in the bottom of the inning, and McMillon came out and was phenomenal again. He only got three outs in the top of the eighth, but two of the hits were some of the weakest hits you’ll ever see. Tech got two insurance runs in the bottom of the inning to end all hope for Duke. It ended with Dusek starting a dog pile.
This was Michael Davis’ career moment, turning some incredibly hard plays and having the biggest offensive play with a two run homer. This was a huge postseason win for the Red Raiders, gave them their third CWS appearance in five years (and first without the original core), and showed that Tech was planning to be dominant for a long time.
No. 4 Football at Texas
|11/24/18||Texas Tech 27, Texas 23||Justus Parker 5 Tckl, INT; Keke Coutee 9 rec, 168 yards; TJ Vasher 5 rec, 127 yards, TD; Dakota Allen 13 Tckl, Sack; Jordyn Brooks 9 tckl, FR.|
Why Was This Chosen?: It’s always good when you beat Texas. There was a lot on the line for this game, for the sake of pride, records, postseasons and possibly jobs. Luckily for the Red Raiders, everything appeared to be alright.
The Longhorns had defeated the Red Raiders the previous year when Texas Tech threw an interception on their final drive. The school from Lubbock had never beaten Texas twice in a row in DKR Stadium (remember “Little People, Big World”?).
Not only that, but the Red Raider team was currently 5-6 thanks to some lackluster finishes and needed a win in Austin in order to make a bowl game. Many also thought that Kliff Kingsbury had a chance at losing his job if they were to miss a bowl game for the third time in five years.
McLane Carter started the game, and it wasn’t too pretty from the start. The defense played well and kept the Longhorns off the board for most of the half, but the Red Raiders failed to do much as they went into halftime down 20-10.
Then the Red Raiders started making some moves. TJ Vasher had a huge catch that set up a much needed to field goal to bring them within one score. Texas would respond with a field goal of their own in the fourth, but Nic Shimonek would enter the game and Texas Tech bounced back with a “throw it up” touchdown to TJ Vasher.
It was a little bit back in forth until about five or six minutes left in the game when UT started to drive. They needed a first down to virtually doom the Red Raiders, but Justus Parker made the play of his life and switched the field. Shimonek found Batson in the endzone shortly after to take the lead, and Douglas Coleman sealed the win with a late INT.
No. 3 Basketball vs Purdue
|3/23/18||#3 Texas Tech 78, #2 Purdue 65||Keenan Evans, 16 points/1 rebound/4 assists; Justin Gray, 12/7/0; Zach Smith, 14/5/1; Zhaire Smith, 14/5/1|
Why Was This Chosen?: These next three games are the clear Top 3 in my opinion, but the hard part was where to rank them. Most of y’all may think this game would be No. 1, but I’m going to put it at No. 3 on this list. I won’t go into detail yet, but here’s why this game made it as high as it did.
This was Texas Tech’s sixth Sweet Sixteen appearance in program history and first since Bobby Knight was the head coach. The Red Raiders had a chance to advance to their first ever Elite Eight and became the greatest team that had ever been in Lubbock. There was a lot on the line.
Purdue led early on in the game, with the great play of Purdue’s Vincent Edwards and the low field goal percentage of the Red Raiders. However, with about 13 mins in the first half, Texas Tech caught up thanks to a team effort of scoring, and the game would go back and forth for the next 10 mins.
Down five with three minutes left in the half, Texas Tech went on a 10-0 run to go up by five points in the half, and never looked back. Carsen Edwards of Purdue would go off in the second half, but the equal scoring by the Red Raiders kept them ahead. Up three with six minutes left in the game, the Red Raiders went on an 11-0 run to end all hope.
When the buzzer rang, Texas Tech made program history and advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time in school history. There were plenty of great plays, including a Justin Gray put back in the first half, a Zach Smith cock back dunk (along with an ally oop tip in), a fading Stevenson three at the buzzer and a Zhaire Smith rejection.
This will be known to me as Justin Gray’s career moment. I thought he would be the best player out that class, but injuries and the emergence of Keenan and Zach disproved that theory. But this was his best game. And it was great to see the three fourth year seniors have great games in their final win in the Red and Black.
No. 2 Baseball vs Florida (Game 1)
|6/17/2018||No. 9 Texas Tech 6, No. 1 Florida 3||Ryan Shetter 4.1 IP, 7 K’s, ER; Gabe Holt 2-5, 3 RBIs; Grant Little 3-3, RBI, Run; Cody Farhat 2-4, 2 Runs; Ty Harpenau .2 IP, 3K’s 2 ER.|
Why Was This Chosen?: This game was the best Texas Tech baseball win all season (and arguably all time) and helped them advance to the winner’s bracket of the College World Series for the first time in program history. Oh, and you defeated the No. 1 team.
Before I get into this game, the reason why I ranked this one higher than the Purdue game is because this was a little closer down the stretch and was the most important (and best) game of the baseball season. When I think of the basketball season, there is another game I remember slightly more.
Early on, it was a scoreless tie thanks to outstanding pitching from Dusek and Shetter, along with some great defense. Florida had a 1-0 lead in the third inning thanks to a balk (???) and the possible player of the year in Brady Singer. They had to feel good about their chances.
However, little did he know he was about to have the worst start of his career. After Tech tied it 1-1, Cam Warren had a 14 pitch at-bat in the fifth that drove up Singer’s pitch count and got him off his rhythm, while giving the Red Raiders confidence against the ace. Farhat singled, Farhat and Fulford forced an error, and Gabe Holt drove them in with a single to give Tech the lead.
Singer was upset, and he wasn’t going to feel better next inning. Texas Tech broke him and finally got some good contact in the sixth, as Zach Rheams drove home Grant Little on a double, then Michael Davis followed up with a RBI single. Florida would score two runs in the seventh, but Ty Harpeau made sure no other runs were scored.
Ryan Shetter was unbelievable this game, with a good fastball and an unhittable curveball (slider? sluve? whatever you want to call it?) that was working to perfection that night. Gabe Holt struggled a bit in the field, but had the two biggest hits of the night. Grant Little was also fantastic, reaching base every time and making some great catches.
No. 1 Basketball vs Florida
|3/17/2018||No. 3 Texas Tech 69, No. 6 Florida 66||Zhaire Smith 18 points/ 9 rebounds / 7 assists; Keenan Evans 22/3/1; Jarrett Culver 11/9/4; Justin Gray 3/5/0; Zach Smith 6/3/1.|
Why This Was Chosen?: This is what makes a game great. Basically every element of it. The game was survive and advance. It had multiple lead changes. It was close for the whole match. It had stars. It had a great audience. It achieved something great. And it had memorable moments that will stick with us forever.
The Purdue game might have gotten Tech to it’s first Elite Eight, but this game was closer for much of the game, enjoyed live by many Red Raider fans, and was important in order to keep the recruiting train and promise of Chris Beard rolling. It was vastly important to make it to the second weekend. Let’s begin.
Unlike the other Texas Tech postseason games, this one was instant scoring from the get go. Teams trading baskets, smart basketball plays and tough shots. Much like the SFA game prior, Florida got off to a little bit of a lead in the first half, but Tech was able to take the lead and keep it close at half (energized by a Zhaire shot clock beater).
Tech and Florida were trading five points leads early in the second half, but Tech looked like they were starting to separate when the Keenan Evans show arrived. He scored seven of the nine points with about 10 minutes to go to put Tech up eight. However, like any good game, the underdog wouldn’t quit and tied the game with three minutes left.
Shortly after, some of the most memorable moments of the season happened. Keenan Evans created space and responded with a three to go up three. Zach Smith rejected a lay-up attempt with two minutes left to get the ball back.
Finally, the Keenan Evans crossover that lead to a wide open Zhaire Smith alley oop to put Tech up five with 30 seconds left. Florida had a chance to tie it at the end, but they missed multiple threes and the Red Raiders moved on to the Sweet Sixteen.
What a game. It’s the most memorable game I’ve seen since I’ve started cheering for the Red Raiders. Just the crowd atmosphere, the intense game, the celebration in the area and the train station afterwards. It was unbelievable.
Keenan Evans had a monster performance and had some tough shots and some clutch plays down the stretch. That being said, Zhaire Smith was on another level. He was a defensive disputer, made multiple threes, had a couple dunks and some very tough rebounds. There was no doubt he would go pro after this game.
It may not have been the last Red Raider win for the basketball game that season, but everything that went into it, it was the best game for the athletic program on the season.